Brown Pelican

November 11, 2009

Contact: Dan Cronin, Environmental Defense Fund, (202) 572-3354,
David Ringer, Audubon, (601) 661-6189,
Maura Wood, National Wildlife Federation, 225-205-2804, 

(Washington, DC – November 11, 2009) National conservation groups focusing on the restoration of coastal Louisiana are hailing today’s announcement by federal officials that the state bird of Louisiana, the Brown Pelican, is being removed from the Endangered Species List. Audubon, the Environmental Defense Fund and the National Wildlife Federation view the recovering pelican as powerful proof that a healthy coast and strong environmental protections can benefit people and nature alike.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the species has sufficiently recovered from the impact of DDT contamination compounded by continuing habitat loss to be taken off the list in areas where it is not already delisted. Populations along the Atlantic Coast, in Florida and Alabama were delisted in 1985.

“The delisting of this iconic Gulf of Mexico species shows that cooperation produces results,” said Mary E. Kelly, senior counsel of the Environmental Defense Fund’s Center for Rivers and Deltas. “Now, we need to ensure that same spirit of cooperation and results extends to restoration of coastal Louisiana’s wetlands, which, among many other benefits, provide habitat and food for this beautiful bird.”

“This is an Endangered Species Act victory that demonstrates the great success we can achieve when we work together,” echoes NWF’s John Kostyack. “Maintaining that success will require confronting climate change and its relationship to coastal restoration and the species that depend on these important ecosystems.”

According to Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count, Brown Pelican population trends have risen in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and California for the past 40-50 years. Hurricane Katrina took a toll on the Gulf Coast populations that has not been thoroughly erased, but the prospects remain good, provided coastal recovery stays on track.

“The future of the Brown Pelican depends on the same strategies that will benefit coastal residents,” said Audubon’s Louisiana Bird Conservation Director Melanie Driscoll. “Pelicans and people need a strong, well-funded coastal restoration plan that will speed the recovery of coastal marshes and the barrier islands that are our first defense from hurricanes and their primary source of food and shelter.”

Continued monitoring of Brown Pelicans is essential to detect any unexpected future population declines. Conservationists also caution that proper site selection, operational guidelines and vigilance will be needed to ensure that proposed wind power projects don’t threaten recovery in Texas and other areas.